Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-1-2024

Faculty Advisor(s)

Jeremy Hsu


Quizzes and exams are crucial elements of undergraduate biology courses; however, little research has been done exploring the importance of the phrasing used in the questions on these assessments. Question framing has the potential to impact student performance and sense of belonging greatly. In this study, we conducted an experiment where we created three versions of the exact same question except for the framing for the experimental scenarios. One version was written with self-referential framing using the term “you,” simulating the student conducting the experiment; another version used classmate-referential framing, placing one of their peers in the experiment; the third version, referred to as authentic framing, included names from a diverse variety of scientists. All students and sections received the exact same questions for each assessment, with the phrasing varying between the assessments given throughout the semester (the first quiz used self-referential, the second quiz used classmate referential, etc.). This study is the second iteration of a similar study that used the same framework but instead gave each section a different assessment framing (Hsu, Clark, Hill, & Rowland-Goldsmith, 2023). Across all sections, our results indicate no significant change in students’ grades, self-reported stress, or sense of belonging. Students reported a strong preference for the self-referential version of the assessment question, followed by classmate-referential framing and authentic framing as the least preferred version. When we asked students why they preferred certain versions, we received a variety of responses that were similar to the first iteration of this study, indicating that question framing can affect a student’s attitude towards questions.


Presented at the Spring 2024 Student Scholar Symposium at Chapman University.